Discover Kerala


Kerala’s tropical landscapes range from golden beaches and mellow backwaters to jungle-clad hills and lush paddies. A long history of trade has made it culturally rich and diverse, full of colourful ritual and exuberant arts – all of which you'll explore.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Kochi (2N) - Muhamma (2N) - Alleppey (1N) - Thekkady (2N) - Munnar (2N) - Palakkad (2N) - Kochi (1N) - New Zealand

Day 1: New Zealand to Kochi
Fly to Kochi. Depending on your time of arrival the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Day 2: Explore Kochi
Take a full day tour of Kochi. Start at the Dutch Palace, once home to the rajas of Kochi, and the synagogue at the heart of the Jewish Quarter, St Francis Church, and Santa Cruz Basilica. Drive along the coast to the mouth of the harbour to view the picturesque old Chinese fishing nets, brought here by Chinese traders in the 14th century. Finish the day at Fort Kochi where you can stroll amongst historical Dutch and Portuguese buildings. This evening find relaxation with an Ayurvedic massage at your hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Cooking Class and Homestay
Travel to Muhamma, a town nestled amongst lush paddy fields in the 'rice bowl' of Kerala. Enjoy a cooking demonstration where you'll see local Keralan cuisine being prepared. Tonight, you will be staying in a homestay with a Keralan family – you'll get the chance to witness the local cooking culture first-hand, and be part of family life. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Kerala's Backwaters
Transfer to the jetty at Alleppey and board your kettuvallam, the local name for the houseboats. Sit back and relax as your boat cruises the beautiful jade water, meandering through canals, rivers and lakes, passing tiny villages, swaying palms, lush paddy fields and people going about their lives on the riverbanks. Dine on food cooked fresh onboard before retiring to your cabin for a night on the water. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Kathakali
Disembark and proceed to Thekkady, one of Kerala's most nature-rich areas. This evening, enjoy a colourful Kathakali dance performance, one of the old art forms of Kerala. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Bamboo Rafting
Ride a bamboo raft on a lake at the heart of Periyar National Park. From the water, you'll get beautiful views of the forested hills and may spot some wildlife, such as elephant, gaur and sambar on the bank of the lake. The afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Tea and Spices
Journey into the Western Ghats to the hill station of Munnar, stopping en route at spice plantations and organic spice gardens. Later, visit a tea plantation and museum where you can get involved in the processes of running the plantation, such as plucking and planting, and learn about the history of tea in the area. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Munnar Hiking
Travel just out of town to the Letchmi hills, where your hike will begin. Strike out into tea plantations, climbing a hill to follow a beautiful ridge through grassland, passing more plantations and forest and absorbing spectacular views as you go. After a picnic lunch, wander through a Nature Zone, spotting exotic plants and birds that are endemic to the region. Return to Munnar where the rest of the day is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Explore Palakkad
Journey to Palakkad. Visit Kandath Tharavad, a 200-year-old Keralan architectural gem built from mud and teak, before exploring the city itself. Kerala as a whole has long been a crossroads of trade and therefore, diverse culture and religion – this is reflected in the sights you will visit today – a Jain temple, the Shiva and Snake temple, Kalpathy Brahmin village and Hyder Ali's Fort. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Traditional Fortune Telling
Start the day with a yoga class, a walk through the rice paddies and a tumbler of tea with local villagers. Climb aboard a bullock-drawn cart to travel through winding lanes to visit some of the area's cottage industries. Meet the artisans, including a potter and basket weaver and see the technique of toddy tapping. This afternoon, learn about fortune telling and have your own fortune read. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Kodungalloor
Travel from Palakkad back to Kochi, stopping en route at the old port town of Kodungalloor. The town is considered the cradle of several world religions in India – Christians, Jews, Muslim and Hindus all settled here centuries ago, creating the perfect microcosm of Kerala's, and India's, diversity. Visits include the 52 AD Kottakavu Church, Cheraman Masjid, India's first mosque and Chenamangalam synagogue. Arrive in Kochi where there is an option to take a sunset cruise along the beautiful Malabar Coast (at your own expense). (B,L,D)
Days 12-13: Kochi to New Zealand
Enjoy a free morning to spend at your leisure. You will be transferred to Kochi airport to board your flight to New Zealand, arriving home the same or following day. (B) Due to flight schedules, passengers flying beyond Auckland may need to depart on a morning flight and miss today's sightseeing or require extra accommodation at your own expense

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:

Single Hotel room Option from $1,360
Land Only (Kochi to Kochi), 12 days from $3,880 per person twin share
Additional charges: Tipping - US$80 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are growing in popularity and you will find high quality coverage. There are active roaming agreements with all phone carriers; however SMS and call rates can be expensive. We recommend that you contact your mobile supplier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated costs.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have Wi-Fi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and India is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size, and services used during the trip.
 
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be fun and entertaining, especially in local markets all over India where souvenirs can be purchased for next to nothing. However all passengers must realise that the authenticity and value of goods is always questionable.
If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Some shopping is made up of copied brand items and reproduced antiques.
 
In keeping with most people’s interest whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities in local shops and government factories. This may vary depending on local conditions, and should never interfere with your itinerary’s included sightseeing.
 
Each region has its own specialty; a traditional handicraft perfected by the locals over centuries, a climate that encourages rich spices to grow, or a type of wood, stone or precious jewel in abundance nearby. Textiles are a popular souvenir, including silk brocades from Varanasi in the north or Kanchipuram in the south, tie-dyed cottons from all over Rajasthan, saris, hand woven Tibetan carpets from Darjeeling or Dharamshala, or the woollen shawls pashminas of Kashmir and Ladakh.
 
There is also the heavy and elaborate silverwork of Rajasthan, “spring picked” tea from the hill stations, and the spices, wooden carvings or facemasks of Kerala.
 
If you prefer set prices, head to the government-run shops, usually called “cottage industries” or “emporium” which sells quality but reasonably priced goods. The more up market tourist shops will also have fixed prices. Markets, street stalls, and local shops can be noisy, crowded, and confronting, but this remains one of the most rewarding experiences of travelling in India. If your itinerary includes some free time and you would like to go shopping, ask either your National Escort/Guide or the hotel staff for advice on how to best get there. They should be able to tell you if you need a taxi or a rickshaw, how much you should pay for the journey and provide you verbal or written directions to give to the driver. Remember to take a hotel business card with you to find your way back!

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is served in the hotel and includes a combination of western and local dishes. As traditional in this region, lunch and dinner are served in a banquet style, so you can try the variety of specialty dishes. The amount of food served is more than ample for the whole group.
 
We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people so dishes are not too spicy or unusual in their taste. One of the great myths about India is that the food is of poor quality and always hot and spicy. This is definitely not the case! In fact, North Indian dishes whilst often very rich and indeed spicy don’t contain as much chilli as South Indian dishes. Indian cuisine is predominately vegetarian; however more meat (chicken and lamb) dishes are available in the North. On our group tours, we use a variety of local and hotel restaurants, which provide variety in both the dishes and methods of cooking. If you like Indian food from home, you will have no problems with the real Indian food as it is similar, only more flavoursome. You’ll love it; though don’t expect to lose weight on your holiday, Indians love to eat and eat big. In tourist centres, some restaurants and hotels may also serve western dishes to provide variety. You may also prefer to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars and tea/coffee from home.
 
Drinks will be at each tour member’s own expense. Beer is widely available and cheap. Wine lovers should remember that western style wine is very expensive to import into India, so is not stocked except by upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice, fruit juices, or lassies (yoghurt based sweet or salty drinks) from a trusted restaurant; where they will use boiled or bottled water to prepare ice and drinks.
 
Tea is very popular and Indians simply love visiting the many street stalls which brew chai (also known as masala), a sweet, spiced tea brewed with boiling milk. Hotels will usually serve tea and instant coffee at breakfast or other meals – you can usually request the chai or masala style tea as well.
Packed meals: On some days, your National Escort/Guide may arrange for a simple, packed meal for your group. It may be a matter of schedule (on long driving days), hygiene (on train journeys), or your location (in remote areas) and we ask you to bear this in mind. Although this is not a full meal, most of our passengers seem to enjoy this change from the large portions and more elaborate banquets enjoyed most days.


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